With all of the excitement that is contained in a full day of school, structured learning can be a challenge for many preschoolers. That is why scheduling some time before a structured activity, that allows children to move their bodies and stimulate their brain can make all the difference in a child’s ability to focus.
Here at Listen and Talk, we are lucky to have an art and movement teacher, Anne Pfiel, who comes every other week to work with our students. She introduced us to a very special type of dance called the brain dance. A brain dance is a body and brain exercise that incorporates developmental movement patterns and music to prepare the brain to operate at its full potential. Ms. Anne works with each classroom and picks movements and dances that are tailored toward the age group and specific children in each class. These brain dance songs help kids gain the awareness of the position and movement of their body while also incorporating musical melody and rhythm, giving their brain a GREAT workout!
Here in the Otter classroom, brain dance songs are something that we try to incorporate into our daily schedule. Every brain dance is great and has unique ways of waking up the brain, but there are 3 specific songs that we always make time for in our classroom. Not only do the teachers like them, but the kids choose these same 3 songs EVERY DAY!
Hickory Dickory Dock
To start off, a classic song that many have sung throughout their childhood: “Hickory Dickory Dock.” By adding a few tactile hand motions to the lyrics, it is now a brain dance song that helps regulate a child’s sensory needs while also gaining awareness of their body. The song begins with the mouse squeezing up the clock. The child incorporates this by squeezing their body starting with the feet all the way up to the head and back down. It is then followed by gently tapping up the clock, slapping up the clock and lastly brushing up the clock. These tactile movements can make all the difference in helping a child regulate their sensory needs while also having fun!
Hickory, Dickory, Dock
*Legs stretched out in front, move hands from toes to head*
*squeeze up from toes to head*
Hickory, dickory, dock the mouse squeezed up the clock
*clap hands above head 1 time*
The clock struck one
*squeeze down from head to toe*
The mouse squeezed down
Hickory, dickory, dock
*tap up from toes to head*
Hickory, dickory, dock the mouse tapped up the clock
*clap hands above head 2 times*
The clock struck two
*tap down from head to toe*
The mouse said ‘whoo!’
Hickory, dickory dock
*slap up from toes to head*
Hickory, dickory, dock the mouse slapped up the clock
*clap hands above head 3 times*
The clock struck three
* slap down from head to toe*
The mouse said ‘whee!’
Hickory, dickory dock
*brush up from toes to head*
Hickory, dickory, dock the mouse brushed up the clock
*clap hands above head 4 times*
The clock struck four
* brush down from head to toe*
The mouse said ‘No more!’ Hickory, dickory,B
Bubble Gum Bubble Gum
Now on to a song that includes one of the most beneficial functions that facilitates a child’s ability to focus, deep breathing. It is easy to forget how effective deep breathing can be when it comes to focusing and learning. When kids get excited, their breathing is often short and fast. Just a few deep breaths brings oxygen to the brain, relaxes your body and can make all the difference in structured learning. In the song “Bubblegum Bubblegum,” the kids reach to touch their toes while saying “bubblegum bubblegum in a dish, how many blows do my dancers wish?” Whatever number they pick is the number of deep breaths they take while scooting backwards and then scooting back in again. This simple act of breathing is filling the brain with oxygen getting the child ready to learn.
Bubble Gum Bubble Gum Lyrics
*Sit on bottom with legs stretched out; wiggle fingers and toes while chanting*
Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish
How many blows do my dancers wish?
*friend picks number 1-5*
*Scoot on bottom away from circle, blowing and counting per number chosen, then scoot back to center while blowing and counting*
Miss Mary Mack!
Now the one you’ve been waiting for… the number one hit in our classroom and the one that tops the charts… “Miss Mary Mack!” It is a song that has been sung in preschools and elementary schools for years and by adding just a few hand motions, it is now a song that is facilitating your child’s brain development. The song incorporates cross lateral movements which are arm and leg movements that cross over from one side of the body to the other. When children do cross-lateral movements, the two sides of the brain are forced to communicate which helps to develop higher level thinking skills. In this song there are two cross lateral movements included. Crossing the right leg over the left and vice versa as well as crossing the right arm over the left and vice versa. This motion can be tricky at first and it could take a while to master but just give it some time and have fun with it!
Miss Mary Mack Lyrics
*Sit on bottom with legs stretch out straight*
*with right knee bent, cross and uncross right leg over left leg*
Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
*with left knee bent, cross and uncross left leg over right leg*
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back
*hold arms outstretched in front of you at shoulder height,
alternate one arm over the other*
She asked her mother, mother, mother
for fifty cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
Jump the fence, fence, fence
*Reach up toward the ceiling with alternating arms*
They jumped so high, high, high
they reached the sky, sky, sky
*tap floor next to legs*
And never come back, back, back
Till the 4th of July ly lyyyyy
Brain dance songs being are not only beneficial in the classroom, but they can be used at home and at any point in the day! When your child gets up from a nap and needs to wake their brain up, if they need a break from PJ Masks and Paw Patrol or even if they need to calm down before a bedtime story, try doing a few brain dance songs with them. It just might be the ticket to success!